Yes, this is a beauty contest. It’s not about the overall quality of the film. This is just about the look of the film. So mostly the way it was shot, the cinematography, the framing, the camera angles, the film stock, the sets, the costumes, the actors, the makeup, the landscapes. In short: The visuals. I know this may sound shallow, but if movies are primarily a visual medium after all. The aesthetic qualities of a film are where a lot of our enjoyment of a film comes from, whether we pay attention to it or not. The great thing about it is that you don’t really have to explain it: The picture speaks for itself. Continue reading
This is a spoiler filled discussion of Sofia Coppola’s latest effort: The Bling Ring. This is not a review. If you haven’t seen the film yet I suggest you do that before to fully appreciate this piece. I warned you, if you keep reading I’m assuming you have seen the film or don’t care about spoilers. Either way: Thank you for reading.
In loving memory of one of America’s greatest cinematographers: Harris Savides. Continue reading
Marc (Israel Broussard) is a quiet teenager that arrives as a new student at Indian Hills High School in Calabasas, California. Most kids seem to ignore him or think he’s weird, but Rebecca (Katie Chang) is nice to him. She introduces him to her girlfriends and pretty soon they become best friends. They both have a passion for celebrities and their expensive lifestyle and living in Southern California’s wealthy neighborhoods access to their homes is easier than you’d think. Taking advantage of rich people’s scarce attention for security, they are able to break in to their home and get a taste of their stuff. What starts out as innocent home invasion out of boredom, slowly turns into a compulsive impulse to burglarize several celebrity homes in the Hollywood Hills area. Being just teenagers of course they love bragging about the robberies at parties and so it’s only a matter of time before they get caught. Continue reading
Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is a famous Hollywood actor living at the Chateau Marmont. Between the routing that comes with promoting his films, getting awards and lending his face for special effects Johnny Marco is bored and on the verge of an existential crisis. His life feels empty, he’s literally spinning around in circles going nowhere. Even sex lost its taste. Everything suddenly changes when his eleven-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) comes to live with him for a brief period of time. Johnny realizes that he’s been neglecting her and that he doesn’t know her at all. Spending some quality time with her on a trip to Milan, Italy something in him is awakened and he finally seems to want to take responsibility and be a part of Cleo’s life. Ending the film on a hopeful note, Marco finally seems to be going somewhere. Continue reading
Last year, October 9, 2012 we lost one of America’s best cinematographers: Harris Savides. He lived in Manhattan and was only 55 years old when he died from brain cancer, leaving his daughter Sophie and his wife Medine behind.
This weekend the last film he shot, The Bling Ring, got a limited release in the United States. I would like to take this opportunity to remember a man who shot some of the most aesthetically interesting films of the last decades.
Starting his career with a Cindy Crawford workout video, Harris moved up in the business working on television and then for Madonna video clips. He then teamed up with video clip director Phil Joanou for his first feature film Heaven’s Prisoner in 1996. Since then he worked with some of the most renowned directors like David Fincher (The Game, where he also has a cameo and Zodiac), Wong Kar-wai (for his BMW short The Follow), Noah Baumbach (Margot at the Wedding and Greenberg), Martin Scorsese (for his short film The Key to Reserva), Ridley Scott (American Gangster), Woody Allen (Whatever Works), Sofia Coppola of course (Somewhere), but most notably Gus Van Sant (from Finding Forrester up to Restless, minus Paranoid Park which was shot by Christopher Doyle).
For me Harris’ style was a mixture of practical look, capturing reality through the honesty of his lens, yet at the same time crafting a captivating and beautiful picture in its simplicity. His sensibilities were most fit for movies that stripped themselves of anything superfluous, trying to frame the essential and at the same time, the essence of objects and people. All the auteurs mentioned clearly recognized his talents and used them to tell stories that needed a realistic, cinéma vérité almost documentarist approach, like Somewhere and Milk. Or when they needed to recount a tale of loneliness and depression like Last Days and Greenberg.
Methodical and precise directors like Fincher; practical, but sentimental ones like Allen and minimalist, but detail oriented ones like Coppola: Harris knew exactly how to fit each and everyone’s needs and make their films look the best they could. He could also be glossy, dazzling and stylish, when he needed to, like in The Follow or even looking at The Bling Ring.
Needless to say, the news of his passing was a sad and devastating one for film fans and especially those among us that appreciate visually refined works. His nuanced vision, his great intuitions and his sense of humor will definitely be missed.
Rest in Peace, Harris Savides.
With the nearing release of Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring in the States, I am getting very excited for the film. The movie’s official Facebook page has been uploading lots of new pictures and stills. Here are the ten that stuck out for me, you’ll notice that most of them feature Katie Chang: That’s because her performance is what I look forward most in terms of acting. It helps that she is so incredibly gorgeous. What’s also apparent, is Harris Savides’ (RIP) stunning cinematography.